Campus

#MyWheaton: Amazing Grace

Posted May 19, 2016 by Robin Kong '16

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“Ordinary” is not necessarily the best word to describe the past couple of years at Wheaton College. The College suffered from multiple incidents and divisive responses about such incidents from society. Seeing the media quite frequently bashing on my College that I love was definitely one of my lowest points of this year.

While mourning and being heartbroken for the College and its separations, I wondered if there was any fundamental belief that could draw an absolute and complete agreement from anyone on campus.

Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To give hope to those who, like me, mourn for the separation of campus, I decided to produce a musical project based on the message of the unity of Christ. The mission statement of project was simple: get students from very different places of Wheaton – the Conservatory and the football team, for instance – to sing about the same thing – the grace of Christ.

With the short amount of time I had left in the school year, I had to move quickly. First, I contacted my friend Adam Lindgren ’16 and asked for an all-voice arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” I could not find a better song or better arranger to represent the message of unity through voices. Next, I reached out to multiple people and asked for their musical participation on this project. I contacted the presidents of different organizations on campus and asked for a participant from each group as a representative. Each artist, by participating on this project, supports the purpose of this project by representing his or her group. Last, to be able to advertise the final product to the student body, parents, faculty and staff members, I came up with the name of this project – Project UNITY. 

During the journey, I was blown away by the number of participants and the amount of willingness of each and every musician who was on board. I was able to record 30 artists, and though my time at studio was sometimes quite exhausting, their enthusiasm and passion constantly reminded me of why I started this project in the first place. With a total of 80 hours in Shea studio with lots of encouragements and help from different friends, I reached the end of the journey last week and launched the final product of Project UNITY ("Amazing Grace," above). 

I thank my advisors, helpers, and musicians who were with me this entire journey – this mix is meaningful not because of its quality, but because of its message behind it, and this message could not have been delivered if it weren’t for them. I thank Wheaton College for providing me such an awesome opportunity to witness Christ during this entire process. Finally, I thank God for bringing us unity, and giving us an ability to praise and sing for His glory. 

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Each singer who participated on this project represents the organization or club that he/she is involved in: Student Government, College Union, Gospel Choir, Swing Club, Resident Life, Track Team, Diakonoi, Discipleship Small Group, Men's Glee Club, Football, Concert Choir, Arena Theater, Amplify, Summer Ministry Program, Phonathon, Women's Chorale, Mu Kappa, Thundertones, Koinonia, the Wheaton Record, and many more. Adam Lindgren '16, Lucian Taylor '17, and Brian Porick '98 recorded, mixed, and mastered the project, and artists who participated on this project include Aly Vukelich '17, Matt Zuckermann '17, Andrea Artis '16, Emily Lengel '16, Josh Knowlton '17, Sola Olateju '17, Jenny Ruda '18, Peter Fenton '17, Peter Desrosier '16, Joshua Buzz Aldrin '16, Lydia Saldanha '17, Brittany Blue '16, Emma Camillone '18, Catherine Hall '18, Luke Goodman '18, Katherine Harrison '18, Kiersten Williams '18, Emma Baker '17, Elizabeth Bretscher '19, Eugenia Kang '16, Sarah Han '16, David Batdorf '16, Elliot Franklin '17, Austin Odling '18, Lucas Anholzer '18, Calvin Brown '16, Jeff Burge '17, Charles Nystrom '18, and Kirkland An '17. 

#GivingTuesday: Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude

Posted December 2, 2015 by Erica Forkner '17

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When I first came to Wheaton, I had no idea how important fundraising is to an institution like Wheaton College. Because I’m not receiving any direct financial help from the College, I always saw fundraising as an area of college life I could never connect with. However, all of these perceptions changed when I became involved in student leadership. Both my time on Student Alumni Board and my semester interning in the Office of Annual Giving opened my eyes to the importance of fundraising at Wheaton.

Throughout my internship with the Office of Annual Giving, I gained an even greater awareness of the ways Wheaton’s donor base made my time here possible. Regardless of whether a student is receiving financial aid or not, the Wheaton Fund subsidizes each student’s education by about $10,000 a year. The Fund also pays professors, takes care of facilities costs, and much more. Whether or not we’re aware of it, the Wheaton Fund plays a role in each of our Wheaton stories.

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One of my responsibilities as an intern has been to relaunch and rebrand the Advancement Associates program, now known as the Student Ambassadors program. As Student Ambassadors, we play a unique role in campus life: we are responsible for both donor care practices as well as student education of what fundraising looks like at Wheaton. We have the opportunity to engage a significant portion of the Wheaton family as we integrate Wheaton’s donor body with Wheaton’s current student body. We try to bring both together under the common ground of a deep love for Wheaton College and for its work for Christ and His Kingdom.

As a national holiday, focused on encouraging people to give back in response to Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday provides avenues to accomplish this. Our intention for #GivingTuesday was to thank those who have been so generous to Wheaton, both through their donations and their prayers. We celebrated #GivingTuesday this week by taking time as a student body to thank those that have made our Wheaton experience possible. We spent all day Tuesday in Lower Beamer educating students about the Wheaton Fund and asking them to write notes to thank those that have made our Wheaton experience possible. 

If Wheaton were to cost an extra $10,000, many students wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t be the community we are today. I think it’s critical that all students understand the impact of the Wheaton Fund on themselves, their peers, and our campus. #GivingTuesday is all about cultivating an attitude of gratitude at Wheaton.

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Erica Forkner '17 started the Student Ambassador group as part of her internship with the Office of Annual Giving. She now leads a group of eight Student Ambassadors. To learn more about giving to Wheaton, Wheaton Associates, and the Wheaton Fund, visit their websites.  

Photo credit: Kevin Schmalandt 

2015 Student Video Competition Winners

Posted November 25, 2015 by Zack Johnston 17, Larryon Truman 16, Matthew Adams '17

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For this year's 2015 video contest, we asked students to capture their Wheaton experience on video in less than three minutes. The videos were judged on originality, creativity, production quality, and reflection of Wheaton's Mission and Community Covenant. Here are the three winning selections:

Zack Johnston '17

"Our Wheaton"

"I really wanted to get at the heart of why I, and a number of people I know, are at Wheaton. There is a lot of talk about how it's a great education and you have tons of opportunities afterwards and we always have some really impressive Wheaton alum come speak for graduation or chapel or lectures or what have you... But their success isn't really my interest. I love that all that and more is true about Wheaton, but in actuality, I'm much more interested in the person sitting next to me than the person on stage or their accolades.

My original inspiration was the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. The idea is that God makes beautiful things out of each of us, and I genuinely consider it a privilege to be a part of or even merely a witness to the part of that process here at Wheaton." -- Zack Johnston '17

Larryon Truman '16

"Worship is a Lifestyle"

"My roommate, Conner Vick, and I wanted to portray worship as a lifestyle and more than just singing songs. Worship encompasses every aspect of our being, and we are able to glorify God by honoring him through the gifts He has given us. Through this video, we wanted to encourage the student body to be mindful that we can worship God in our day-to-day activities." -- Larryon Truman '16

Matthew Adams '17

"Feet of Wheaton"

"As a dancer, my feet help me communicate my passion and love for music! Through this video I am able to show the diversity of things feet do here at Wheaton. On top of that, these feet are effecting change for Christ and His kingdom which is truly beautiful!” -- Matthew Adams '17

Learn more about the winners on their author bio pages and check out last years winners here. Stay tuned for our student photo contest in Spring 2016. 

Arena Theatre's Caucasian Chalk Circle

Posted November 13, 2015 by Max Pointner '18

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“The war is over! Beware the Peace!” declares a character in Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” Arena Theater’s production of Brecht’s play emphasizes the playwright’s quest for peace and justice in the face of war.

Brecht is known for his usually heavy plays, and he was a pioneer of modern theater, advocating for art which encouraged social change and action. He does not try to entertain, but to provoke thought. He weaves humor over his weighty topics, yet is not afraid to momentarily show the audience the darkness he dances around.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” perfectly captures the ambiguity of a war zone: the audience is faced with both the menace and grandeur of battle, the invasion and desperate plight of the insignificant. Even the resolution of the play is overshadowed by unanswered questions: does war further justice? Does justice further peace?  As an actor, these ambiguities are a space for work.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” calls for over 70 characters and Arena Theater’s current production is populated by only 18 actors. We are all playing many roles, attacking problems from several points of view. Many of these characters are terrible people: selfish, deceitful, filthy. It is the actor’s job to humanize them, and I find myself asking, “How is this person better than I?”

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I am forced to be patient, generous, and even merciful with these characters as I simultaneously use them to tell a story while also authentically advocating for them in their own risky worlds. Perhaps it is this mercy which can further peace in the world as we reach out to “the least of these.” 

Brecht keeps his story moving through song and Arena’s production pairs the confrontational, driving energy of hip-hop music with the playwright’s need to be heard. Beats and textures dominate the soundscape as characters and musicians fall in and out of rhythm with Brecht’s songs and dialogue. 

Working with composer Elliot Leung '17 and director Michael Stauffer, we fit words to music to stage in a daunting feat of multi-media manipulation. We decided to end the play with a prayer. 

I adapted the tune of this “Dona Nobis Pacem” from the end of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8, composed shortly after WWII. The tempestuous symphony plots the end of a turbulent war and concludes in a major key, but deep rumblings of twisted musical phrases continue beneath the tranquility. The peace is not so peaceful after all. To reference Isaiah, though: we cry for peace! There is none. Perhaps as Christians we are the peacemakers of the world. Brecht certainly begs us to be.

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Max Pointner '18 is a sophomore art history major and part of Arena Theatre. To learn more about Wheaton theatre and the play Caucasian Chalk Circle, visit Arena Theatre's website.

Photo Captions: Lauren Gathman '17 and Olivia Wilder '16; Max Pointner '18 and Wilder; Gathman, Travis Shanahan '16, John Ingraham '18

Photo Credits: Paul Vermeesch '18 

College Union: Live, Laugh, Let Loose!

Posted November 4, 2015 by Tyler Hansen '16

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During our last All School Communion, Chaplain Blackmon asked the student body to take out our phones and tweet our prayer for Wheaton College. Without hesitation, I typed with my millennial-paced thumbs, “that our campus would take itself less seriously.” This prayer for Wheaton has also motivated my involvement in College Union during my junior and senior years at Wheaton.

College Union is an organization composed of 12 students who coordinate some of Wheaton’s most beloved events: President’s Ball, Talent Show, Roller Disco, Air Jam, Class Films, and dozens more. But College Union is about so much more than simply drawing large crowds of people. We believe that behind the strange costumes, loud music, and goofy events lie our mission and purpose—because Wheaton students, myself included, have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously.

On College Union, we believe that our events matter to the vitality of our campus because they remind our accomplishment and excellence-saturated culture that there is more to us as people than what we do, or what we accomplish. A good GPA, which I may or may not possess, or a robust résumé, of which I may or may not boast, are fine, but they can never take the place of laughter, goofiness, or letting loose that is necessary for human flourishing. As the song goes, “a little party never killed nobody.”

This mission, to offer events that energize our student body, keeps the College Union team motivated to continue to provide some of the staple events that our campus community looks forward to every year. But this doesn’t exhaust College Union’s mission: this year’s team is always looking for new and fresh ways to invigorate our campus. Already this year we have introduced a mechanical bull at our annual square dance and used the French House as a massive canvas for community art pieces. Who knows what this year’s College Union team will dream up next? And hopefully, event by event, our campus will be encouraged to play, goof around, and ultimately, take ourselves less seriously.

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Tyler Hansen '16, a Biblical and Theological studies major, is the president of CU this year. Visit their websites for more information about College Union and Student Activities Office (SAO) events. 

Photo Credits: College Union 2014-15; Taylor Schuster '16 tries his hand at the square dance's mechanical bull this fall; students explore the spray-painted walls of the French House during College Union's SASS event. 

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